Stop poking, touching, and hugging your children…

Thoughts.  Is that all we really are? A jumble of thoughts that we try to base our lives and interactions on?

What is abuse?

I am new to this mental health thing, and especially blogging about it.  But I came across another blogger whose insight has struck home with me.  I did not know that this is what I was doing to my own children.  Here is an excerpt from what she wrote:

“We were in the kitchen, M and I.  He had walked by us three times, going back and forth to get something he needed.  Each time he walked by he touched her, touched her shoulder, poked her side, patted her butt.  It was routine.  It’s what he does.

He thinks he’s showing endearment; he doesn’t mean anything by it.  He doesn’t understand, I tell myself.

But I remember the same thing happening to me.  I remember being young and all the little pokes, the little rubs, the playful pats.  I remember the duality of not wanting to be poked all the time and missing the pokes when he was upset with me.  I remember feeling that it was an endearment; it was how he showed me he cared.  And he’s my dad, I want him to care.

Everything we learn about society is built up from what we learn at home first.  How we interact with the world outside the home is a version of what we’ve learned about how to interact at all.

I asked my dad, “If you had a magic lens and you could see into M’s day at school, and there was a teacher or another student that touched M every time he walked by her, innocently enough, nothing overtly sexual, would you be ok with that?”

He quickly sat up, offended, “No, that’s not ok.”

So I looked at him and I reminded him of how he did exactly that same thing to her, every day.  I could clearly see the confusion on his face.

Without realizing, he is teaching her/ taught me that men can touch her/me without her/my consent; that it is endearing to have someone touch without asking first.  We were taught to ignore or not pay direct attention to the fact that our body was not our own to decide what happened to it.  We, being children, were property, he being the patriarch was in charge.  And seemingly without intention, he put himself in charge of our bodies as well.  (We, being girls, would later also be socially inundated with objectification to tack on to the back of being raised as property.)

Our fathers are our first interactions with men.  That relationship helps us learn what to expect of ourselves and others in our future.

I learned not to pay attention to being touched by boys/ men.   And that lack of response is a test abusers use.  It’s a red flag test I blew through time after time.”

This post blew me away.  The entire blog post can be read by going to Mariflie’s Blog.

So I see this in myselcropped-daddy-moose-blog-pic1.jpgf.  I tickle, hug, poke, and otherwise play with my children without their consent.  I think I try to listen to them when they vocalize that they don’t want to be messed with but now I will definitely keep my eyes and ears open.  I love how she says to ask for permission and that healthy affectionate touches are okay when gone about properly.

Saying things like “Come here so I can tickle you.”  Or “I want to give you a hug, get over here.”  Then if the child doesn’t want a hug the response needs to be, “That’s okay.  I still love you.” Or something along those lines.

Very refreshing to hear.  I will start trying to do this as of today and to observe whether or not I have not been paying attention to my children’s boundaries.

T.I.H.

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